It looks like the the Environmental Protection Agency has found itself a tag team partner in its efforts to unilaterally bankrupt Kentucky coal companies.
Earlier this month, the US Department of the Interior sent a letter to Kentucky’s Energy and Environmental Cabinet threatening to force federal control over Kentucky’s bonding program for surface coal mining operations if the Commonwealth did not raise bond amounts to the liking of the unelected bureaucrats in Washington D.C.
Before starting a new surface mining project, a company must submit a bond to the Commonwealth to be returned in full once the relevant land has been restored to its former conditions. Apparently federal regulators believe Kentucky’s bonds aren’t satisfactory, and are once again threatening state sovereignty and Kentucky’s right to regulate its own internal commerce.
Just how do D.C. bureaucrats know the appropriate bond levels for Kentucky coal miners better than Kentuckians do? How are the subtle trade-offs between one state policy or another lost on the local citizens of the Bluegrass State, but so easily grasped by the far and away politicians in Washington?
Apparently that all-important local knowledge of the costs and benefits of such a change in the bond program are of no concern to the those in the Department of the Interior who wrote condescendingly to Kentucky’s Energy and Environmental Cabinet:
“I appreciate the complexities of the matter and recognize the deficiencies developed over the past decade or more will take a concerted effort over time to resolve. Nonetheless, it is time to make actual progress.”
Like a parent chastising a petulant child, the feds dismissed the state’s concerns with such a new bond program and are insisting on their way or the highway – a threat to be backed by the force of federal government if necessary.
This is yet another grievance for Kentuckians to discuss at the Environmental Protection Agency’s public hearings scheduled for June 5th and 7th in Frankfort and Pikeville respectively.